Bashar Assad emails leaked, tips for ABC interview revealed
In part one of the Haaretz expose of emails leaked from the account of the Syrian president's media adviser, Assad is told, ahead of interview with Barbara Walters, that the 'American psyche can be easily manipulated.'
Hundreds of emails from Syrian President Bashar Assad's office were leaked on Monday after an attack by the hacker group Anonymous. One of the email files, which Haaretz has obtained, was a document preparing Assad for his December 2011 interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.
The attack took place overnight Sunday and the target was the mail server of the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs. Some 78 inboxes of Assad's aides and advisers were hacked and the password that some used was "12345". Among those whose email was exposed were the Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Fadlallah Azzam and Assad's media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban.
Assad's TV interview with Walters was memorable for his repeated denials that Syrian citizens were being killed. "We don't kill our people ... no government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person," Assad told Walters.
About 10 days before the interview, Sheherazad Jaafari - a press attache at the Syrian mission to the United Nations - sent a long email to former Al Jazeera journalist Luna Chebel, who now works in Assad's bureau. She also sent the email to an aide of Shaaban's. Jaafari, who was involved in arranging the interview with Walters, also happens to be the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar Jaafari.
Jaafari Jr. wrote: "The major points and dimensions that have been mentioned a lot in the American media are: The idea of violence has been one of the major subjects brought up in every article. They use the phrases 'The Syrian government is killing its own people,' 'Tanks have been used in many cities,' 'Airplanes have been used to suppress the peaceful demonstrations,' and 'Security forces are criminals and bloody.'"
She advised: "It is hugely important and worth mentioning that 'mistakes' have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized 'police force.' American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it.' It's worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings."
Jaafari also recommended that Assad say: "Syria doesn't have a policy to torture people, unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools that specialize in teaching policemen and officers how to torture."She advised using Abu Ghraib in Iraq or execution via electric chair as more examples.
She added that that mentioning the talkbacks on articles in the American media are a useful tool, saying that "the Americans are asking their government to stop interfering in other countries' business and sovereignty and to start taking care of American internal issues."
"It is worth mentioning that when Obama asked H.E. to step down he himself have had a 70% decrease of his popularity in the States," Jaafari wrote.
"It would be worth mentioning how your personality has been attacked and praised in the last decade according to the media. At one point H.E. was viewed as a hero and in other times H.E. was the 'bad guy'. Americans love these kinds of things get convinced by it."
Jaafari also stressed that Facebook and YouTube are important to "the American mindset" and advised to mention that "the face that Facebook and YouTube are open now – especially during the crisis – is important."
She also recommended mentioning that, "in the first month the international media was allowed in Syria. Both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya's offices were open but when they started to manipulate what is happening and 'make up facts', the Syrian government became more cautious about who will enter the country."